Innovation comes in many formes. Sometimes, it means looking at an old problem throw a new lens.
ImmuVen's technology is based on research that takes an unconventional approach to attack disease. The company has a license agreement with the University to develop a suite of products that address cancer and methicillin-resistant organisms (e.g. MRSA), a drug-resistant staph infection responsible for more than 18,000 deaths in children and adults each year.
"An antibiotic that we all know about and sometimes take is designed to go in there and kill the bacteria," said company co-founder David Kranz, a University of Illinois biochemistry professor. "But what we're doing is designing something that actually takes care of the toxins secreted by a bacteria which is doing a lot of the damage. It's a different approach but one we think has promise to control staph."
The company opened its office in EnterpriseWorks in 2010, where it also occupies lab space. It has received two grants from the National Institutes of Health for research and development. Kranz is an experienced entrepreneur who sold a company he co-founded to Abbott Labs in 2002.
ImmuVen's technology focuses on the engineering of T cell receptor proteins for treatments in which conventional drugs have proven unsuccessful. The company believes its approach has multiple applications for use to treat a wide range of ailments.
ImmuVen plans to further its goals through contract research and strategic partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The company's next steps will be to get into the FDA approval process and move towards clinical trials.